In ministry and church circles there is often much discussion concerning the role and purpose of the office of pastor. The job description of a pastor can certainly be exhaustive. However, what should be the main concern of the pastor? What should he focus on? I’d like to suggest that there are four basic priorities of the pastor.
PRIORITY #1 – PRAYER
The first and foremost priority of the pastor is the ministry of prayer. Without prayer, the pastor is ill equipped to carry out the many demands upon him. Prayer is the power source of the ministry of the pastor and the church. A congregation benefits much from a praying pastor. In Acts 6:1-4, we have what is commonly considered as the appointing of the first deacons. The context of this passage puts an emphasis on the need for the pastor to give himself to the study of the Word and of prayer. Many of the great men of the faith over the years were men of prayer. Many would spend long hours every day in prayer. Before the pastor does anything else, he must give himself to prayer.
PRIORITY #2 – PULPIT
The second priority of the pastor is the ministry of the pulpit. The number one responsibility of a pastor in a local church is the pulpit. The pastor has the God-given responsibility to equip the church through the preaching of the Word. He also has a responsibility to protect his flock from false teachers and from those with impure motives. The pastor should be jealous of his pulpit and should not take his responsibility to protect the integrity of the pulpit lightly. Nothing should distract or hinder the pastor’s work of sermon preparation and delivery. A local church does well to protect the study time of their pastor and insist on his continual study of the Word so that the flock may be well fed through the preaching of the Word.
PRIORITY #3 – PEOPLE
The third priority of the pastor is the care of the flock. This care is primarily concerning the spiritual needs of the flock, however, physical needs also apply. The pastor should know and study the well-being of his flock so that he may appropriately minister to them. Time should be given to getting to know the people that the pastor serves. The pastor must continually pray that God will instill in him a genuine love for the people. Pastoral care is necessary for the continually well-being and advancement of the church.
PRIORITY #4 – PLAN
The final priority of the pastor is to defend and advance the God-given plan for the church. Every church must have a vision to survive. It is the pastor’s responsibility to make sure that everything that the church does is in line with the over-all purpose and vision of the church. The development and practice of good administrative skills is a must for every pastor in order to stay focused on God’s plan for the church. A pastor is an administrator or ‘overseer.’ Much care should be given to keep the ministry of the church organized and focused.
Balancing these priorities can be difficult. However, pastors should continually develop these priorities. Staying focused on these basic priorities will go a long way in being a God-honoring pastor.